The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is your passport to an extensive database of available grants, financial aid, scholarships or state programs.

If you’re a single mother looking at financial options for college, you are encouraged to complete your FAFSA to ease your burden and gain access to various free student aid courtesy of Uncle Sam.

Types of Federal Student Aid

Typically, there are four (4) types of federal student aid available to single mothers who file the FAFSA – grants, scholarships, work-study and federal loans. Each of which can be used to pay for education expenses, including tuition, books, housing, and other fees.

1. Federal Grants

Federal grants are example of need-based aids where eligible students are awarded on the basis of financial need as reflected in their FAFSA. These grants need not be repaid by the awardee.

Listed below are six (6) common types of federal grants that single mothers may apply:

  1. Federal Pell Grant
    The Pell Grant is the main federal aid program for needy students. A maximum amount of $5,550 is awarded to students each year based on their financial need.
  2. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
    This federal grant is usually awarded to those with “the absolute highest levels of need” – those with the lowest Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and those who are also Federal Pell Grant recipients.
  3. Academic Competitiveness Grant
    Awards $750 on the first year and increases towards completion of the degree.
  4. Iraq & Afghanistan Service Grant
    This is open for the children of US Armed Forces who died in service after September 11, 2011.
  5. Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant
    The amount of $4,000 a year is awarded to students who wish to teach in either a public or private primary or secondary school with low-income families.
  6. National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant
    Up to 4,000 is awarded to academically excelling students who are on their 3rd and 4th year of study in a specified field of study. Unfortunately, this federal grant has been discontinued.

2. Federal Work-Study Program

The work-study program is a form of federal aid where students are required to work to earn money to pay for their education expenses.

Unlike the other forms of federal aid, students actually work for their share and get to build associations, which may help them in their career. The line of work is mostly related to their degree and can be an on or off-campus. In order not to put too much burden on the students, a maximum of twenty (20) hours per week is allowed per student.

If you qualify for FWS aid, your salary may start at the prevailing federal minimum wage but varies with job requirements, skill, and experience levels.

3. Federal Student Loans

Federal loans are low-interest loans – funded directly by the U.S. Department of Education. But unlike scholarships and grants, these loans are borrowed money that must be repaid after graduation, with interest.

This kind of federally-funded loan is more attractive as it offers lower (fixed) interest rates and have more flexible repayment options than loans from banks or other private sources.

  1. Direct Stafford Loan
  2. Federal Perkins Loan
  3. Graduate PLUS Loan
  4. Parent PLUS Loan

4. Scholarships for Single Mothers

What makes scholarship differ from grant is the criteria used to determine who receives the money. In most cases, a grant has financial need at its core, while a scholarship may be awarded based on merit, talent, major, ethnicity, etc.

  1. Free Scholarships for Single Mothers
  2. Scholarships for African Americans
  3. College Scholarships for Single Mothers

These scholarships are awarded based on merit, need not be repaid and sometimes require a different application aside from the FAFSA.